Kristi Schoepfer’s Passing Leaves a Hole in the Sports Law Academic Community

Kristi Schoepfer’s Passing Leaves a Hole in the Sports Law Academic Community

People are complex. What you see is not always the same thing that everyone else sees. Kristi Schoepfer, the Winthrop University (SC) sports law professor, was a textbook example of this.

Dedicated. Detailed. Loyal. Generous. Fun. These were some of Kristi’s qualities. But not everyone saw all of those qualities.

Sadly, many of those who knew Kristi may never see that full picture after Kristi passed away at 47, from Cancer, in late April.

That realization is an especially hard pill to swallow for members of the Sport and Recreation Law Association, a tight-knit organization of mostly undergraduate professors who teach sports law. Kristi had acted as the executive director of SRLA for the last five years. She was instrumental in the organization surviving the pandemic, and emerging stronger than ever. She was respected, and she was loved.

SRLA’s incoming President Jeffrey Levine (Drexel University) noted in a letter to the membership that he “had the distinct privilege of working alongside Kristi for the last four years. Kristi was a member of our organization for over 20 years, and served as our Executive Director since 2018. She was an exemplary leader and colleague.

“Kristi’s transformative contributions to SRLA are profound and enduring. She embodied accountability and initiative, always there, always ready to answer the call, no matter the hour or the issue. Kristi’s fiercely steadfast dedication to SRLA was a beacon that guided us through challenging times and into a phase of growth.

“Despite her numerous professional achievements, Kristi never lost sight of the importance of personal connections and friendships. She gave her time generously, sharing her knowledge, resources, and spirit with all of us. She was a leader, a scholar, a professional, a mentor, and a friend. Her kindness knew no bounds, and she treated everyone with respect and consideration, leaving a lasting impact on each of us.

“Kristi’s intelligence, grit, and kindness were the cornerstones of her character. She possessed a rare blend of strength and generosity that made her not only a well-respected colleague but also a cherished friend. She always led with a spirit of service. Her leadership style was never about wielding authority, but about giving of herself, about making others better. She infused SRLA’s culture with her ethos of service, kindness, fun, and selflessness.

“Kristi made us believe in ourselves, even when we doubted our capabilities. She always went the extra mile to ensure we had the support we needed. Her approach to leadership will leave an indelible mark, inspiring us all to strive for greater empathy and commitment.”

Winthrop Feels the Pain, Too

As much as the loss is being felt by those who knew her at SRLA, it also being experienced by her colleagues in the Richard W. Riley College of Education at Winthrop, where she was revered “as a passionate educator who loved her students and contributed greatly to the university’s caring culture.”

While Kristi was chair of the Department of Physical Education, Sport and Human Performance, her impact was felt across the campus.

“Kristi was a fervent advocate for our faculty, an engaging teacher, prolific scholar, and compassionate friend to many at our university,” wrote Beth Costner, dean of the college, in an e-mail to the education faculty. “The memories of her quick wit, social media memes, dog stories, and love for all things New York City will make us smile again soon, but for now we will grieve her loss collectively.”

Lauren McCoy Coffey, an assistant professor of sport management at Winthrop and SRLA member, called her “a shining example of how a leader should be and an amazing friend. Personally, she had an incalculable impact on my life, and I’m grateful and better for knowing and working with her.”

Another Side of Kristi

Everyone in SRLA and in the Winthrop community got to see the dedicated professional and loyal friend that Kristi was. But few had the perspective of her aggrieved husband, Michael Bochicchio.

Bochicchio, who owns the professional wrestling sites and Wrestlecon, created a following heartfelt tribute to his wife –

This was a side that many of us, including this writer, had never seen. There will never be another Kristi.